Monday, October 23, 2017

Indy, Look Out!

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

For some, Indiana Jones is one of the most iconic fictional adventure characters. The Indiana Jones movies never lack for adventure or death defying scenes. In one of the franchise films, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark', Indy, played by Harrison Ford, is hired by the US government to find the Ark of the Covenant which is believed to still hold the Ten Commandments.

Indy is not alone in the pursuit of this ancient artifact so getting to it before the other party does is critical. He must act fast. Through no fault of his own, Indy ends up pairing with an ex-flame along the way and the adventure takes them from Nepal to Cairo.

In one particular scene, Indy comes face to face with a childhood fear. Upon arriving at the Well of the Souls, Indiana peers down to find that the ground is moving. Asking for a torch and throwing it into the pit, his fear is now a reality. Snakes. A lot of snakes. Ten thousand to be exact.

However, against all odds and, most definitely, against his will, Indy enters the pit and faces his fear so that his quest can continue. Certainly, the photo of him above says everything about how he is feeling in those moments.

There are so many things in the world and our lives that can cause fear. War, death, uncertainty about the future, joblessness, debt, and others. Odds seem to be stacked against us when we are facing fear. Often, we wonder if we'll ever overcome it.

For me, the past year and a half of being unemployed has been an...interesting time. From doubt to purposelessness, fear to anxiety, I have experienced a gamut of thoughts and emotions that would, sometimes, overwhelm me. It used to be the small things that scared me - darkness, spiders, snakes.

Yet, now that I'm older and have experienced so much more of life, it's the bigger things that strike fear into my heart. Like not fully knowing the meaning and purpose of my life, wondering if I am just wasting time until I die, or if I'm missing out on a huge blessing because I don't take chances.

Without getting overly profound with the fear-driven questions and thoughts, I have to stop myself from 'making a mountain out of a mole hill', as it were and go back to the basics of where I stand right now, both as a woman and child of God.

While I can, easily, think of all the things that could happen, increasing my fears, it's better to take a step back and realize, through common sense and wisdom, that the majority of the things I dream up from the stronghold of fear, will never happen. There are even statistics that support this.

For me, reading the Bible and talking to God brings peace that drowns out all the fearful things I find myself conjuring up. It's knowing God in relationship that brings me out of fear and helps me to see things as they really are. God cares so much about how we feel when we are afraid that He loves to remind us that there is no fear in Him.

In fact, His reminders are throughout the Bible. One example is found in a book called Deuteronomy, chapter 20, which says, "...Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified...". Not only are we told not to fear once, but four times in the same sentence. That's how important it is not to have or hold on to fear. That brings me great reassurance and a posture of fearlessness.

So, when it seems that my world is turning upside down and I have no idea what the future holds, I know who holds me and is in control of everything and there is no longer any room for fear. It's a principle I visit each time fear tries to creep in.

Indy, I feel your fears when it comes to snakes. I can only handle a gardener snake, at best. May we never allow the fears in our lives to take hold or take over to the point of no longer living a full and adventurous life sans Indiana Jones.

Encouragement for the week:

Still unemployed, I try not to be afraid of my future. I keep fighting through the fear to see a God that cares just as much about my situation as I fear it.

Yet, fearing too many things, too much, will stop us from living a good life. Say, "No" to fear and walk on the heads of the snakes in your life.

If you are a Christian, God tells us to have no fear. He is in control and knows everything coming up in our lives before we enter it. Continue to live in the fact that difficulty does not reach us without it having passed through God first.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He will bring relief from your fears, whatever they are, and give you the full life you long to live.








Monday, October 16, 2017

Sixteen Candles

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

In Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald's character, Samantha, is engaged in the most excruciating journey of her life - the teenage years. While battling internal angst, Samantha is also met with external chaos as her family plans and prepares for the wedding of her older sister.

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the matrimonial event exists Sam's upcoming and much anticipated right of passage - her sixteenth birthday. Even though most of the attention is focused on her sister, Sam still holds to the expected celebration she imagines will be thrown by her odd, yet loving family.

The morning of her birthday brings great hope which is soon crushed by non-existent acknowledgement of the most important day that could ever happen to a hormonally raging teen. Nothing from her mother. No cards or wishes from her grandparents. Not a word from anyone. Nothing. She's soon aware of the belief that no one cares. She's crushed.

To top it all off, Sam pines for the most popular senior in her school - Jake. A rugged fellow who happens to be dating the most popular girl in her school. In Sam's mind, Jake doesn't even know she exists. Life sucks.

It's never easy to think that no one cares, especially when the thought becomes a whole hearted belief and discouragement sets in. There have been times when I have felt the same. When a text message doesn't come or the phone doesn't ring and an entire day goes by in technological silence. When I think about friends in my life that I, rarely, hear from except on my birthday.

I have to make a decision to get away from that thought process, and soon, because I know what comes next - despair. Despair doesn't wait long to happen once you're already discouraged or disappointed about a situation in life and it can take root for hours, even days, if you don't change your mind.

Fortunately, over the years, I've come to not only read, but also embrace and believe a great truth that God has told me in His Word, the Bible. It is found in the book of 1 Peter, and says, "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (5:7 NIV) No matter if I am thinking or feeling uncared for, these things are temporary and don't reflect the truth above.

Someone does care, a lot. Someone good, loving, and faithful cares for me and you and He always will even though we may think that others don't. That is a reassuring reality in amongst the pathways in life that may appear otherwise.

Samantha's story doesn't end in despair with a diss from her entire family or the beau she dreams about. In fact, it begins with a heartfelt apology from her father and mother and ends with Jake stealing her away from her sister's wedding. The scene moves to them sitting across from each other on a kitchen table. Between them is a lit birthday cake with sixteen candles and Sam knows that someone cares.

Encouragement for the week:

Being human means moving through a multitude of feelings and thoughts that can leave us in an emotional upheaval.

Feeling like someone doesn't care is often hurtful and disappointing but it isn't the truth.

If you are a Christian, you have the joy and security of knowing that God cares for you deeply and constantly. Don't let the feelings of the moment overrule the facts of God's love and care for you.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and you will find Him. He is ready to show you how much He cares for you and it is something that never ends when you share a relationship with Him.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?


**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Skipping school was never more appealing than when Matthew Broderick, as Ferris Bueller, brilliantly planned and carried out his absence in the movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. He further justifies the truant behavior with, "How could I possibly be able to handle school on a day like this?" (a perfect, sunny day).

While I would never recommend truancy to anyone, there was a time I felt brazen enough to skip out when in highschool. Well, okay, it was only one class and that one time I skipped out, was the one time I got caught and left hung out to dry by my friends. Needless to say, it was never attempted again. I am, definitely, no Ferris Bueller, but I digress.

Ferris goes to great lengths to skip with the help of his best friend, Cameron, who alters his voice to sound like Ferris' father and, reluctantly, gets Ferris excused from the day's scholastic activities. Cameron was legitimately sick the day that Ferris recruited him to help aid and abet his actions. Cameron was also a worrier. Especially when Ferris convinced him to take his father's prized possession, a 1961 Ferrari, as their mode of transportation for the day.

After picking up Ferris' girlfriend, Sloane, the three went on to experience unexpected and hilarious hijinks in the city of Chicago. Including Ferris' impromptu joining on a Von Steuben Day parade float and lip-syncing Wayne Newton's 'Danke Schoen'. Cameron barely cracked a smile the entire time while continuing to fret about the situation surrounding the 'borrowing' of his father's car. You could see the anxiety written all over Cameron's face.

I can relate to what Cameron was going through. Sometimes there are things in life that get us down and cause us to worry and be anxious. I was laid off from my full time job over a year ago and it's been tough trying to find another one. At times, it has been a challenge putting aside my worry and anxiety about it especially knowing that my savings will eventually run out.

It's times like that when I need to remember my life is more than what I am seeing in the moment. That there is someone in my corner who is looking out for me and cares about every thing that concerns me. That someone is God and He has been instrumental in pulling my attention away from my would-be hopeless situation and focusing on who He is.

There is nothing I care about in my life that He doesn't care about more. Even the fact that I have been unemployed for this long. Reading the Bible helps me to get back to having the proper perspective in times of worry and anxiety. The perspective that God will never let me down. He is faithful.

In fact, my mind slows down and my heart stops racing when I read Philippians 4:6, which says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." This is something that God tells us to do because fretting about anything won't help us, but it will hurt us. We'll lose sleep, get sick, and start to dream up a whole host of other scenarios that will, realistically, never happen.

All of those things have happened to me as a result of allowing worry to consume my thoughts, which then creeps into my heart and then I lose what peace resided there. Though, the deep rooted peace that comes from God never leaves me even though I may not sense it during an overwhelming time.

I pray a lot, everyday. For a job, for help, for healing, and for so many other things. Knowing that I can always do that, brings me back to what was once lacking in the midst of my unsettledness - peace.

Celebrating this day of thanksgiving magnifies the above verse into so much more than being grateful for turkey and stuffing. Although, tryptophan is one of the best after effects of eating that mighty bird. Praying, and thanking God while doing it, brings so much more into my heart that I had forgotten, existed. A fresh, new perspective that helps to alleviate a, once, heavy and worried heart.

I never need to be anxious about anything because in everything, I know that I can go to God with whatever is worrying me and He understands and helps me through it all until I come to that beautiful place of peace.

Encouragement for the week:

The past month seems to have been riddled with a lot of things, not only beyond our control, but beyond our comprehension. Like Las Vegas, Edmonton, Paris, London, and the hurricanes.

It's easy to fall into a state of worry and concern when there is so much bad news and a struggle to make sense of the senseless.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance and saving grace of having an intimate relationship with God. That He can give you everything you need in a time of worry or anxiety. That if you put all things into His hands, He will give you the peace beyond understanding and guard your heart and mind.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him and all the peace that He offers as part of a relationship with Him. That peace will help you cope with the things in your life that you can't understand and that bring worry and anxiety.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Still

"For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face..."
 - 1 Corinthians 13:12

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**


The contemplative things of life,
The joys, some pain, and wayward strife.

From ashes deep, see beauty come,
A precious gift, indeed, for some.

But how can we still understand,
Of someone else's willing hand.

To take a life by murderous scheme,
In this, our world, I could not dream.

That plots and plans would lead us here,
Into a seeming place of fear.

When violence breaks and threats abound,
We wonder where our hope is found.

Through bloodshed there is something bright,
Some shining glimpse, a piercing light.

Though evil tries to tear apart,
The worried mind and hurting heart.

There is no thing that'd ever be,
The crush or kill of unity.

Creation stands in peace and love,
To overcome and stand above.

The trials that test our strength and will,
In prayer the soul shall triumph, still.


Encouragement for the week:

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada were stark reminders that evil lurks. This poem is for those affected by these events.

We can never quite figure out why things happen, brutal things.

Lives can be taken in a heartbeat and without remorse. May we never cease to come together in unity and stand on peace and love.

If you are a Christian, you know that Satan looks to steal, kill, and destroy God's children. Always be on guard and ready with your armor of God.

If you are not a Christian and were unsettled by these recent events, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He will bring you hope during times of uncertainty in our world.


Monday, September 25, 2017

Be Prepared

"Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know 
which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."
 - Ecclesiastes 11:6

**Photography by Melissa Talbot**

Be prepared for - life, the worst, and the unexpected. We're told to be prepared for the things that life, undoubtedly, will throw at us. Always wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident, get vaccinations when travelling overseas, and keep an emergency kit in your car. With all the things we're told to do to be ready for, can we really be completely prepared?

Over the past couple weeks, the news channels have been reporting the occurrences of natural disasters including hurricanes Harvey and Irma, earthquakes and flooding. There seems to be no shortage of calamity. From Texas to Puerto Rico, Cuba to Mexico, people's lives were taken and changed by what was happening. There are places still without power and folks with the inability to return to their homes due to the devastation these catastrophes left behind.

While it's a scary thought to be caught up in something like a hurricane or earthquake, modern technology has enabled us to be better prepared in the face of mother nature's hiccups. Through the use of sattelite tracking and other early warning systems, oncoming peril now gives us clues to when and how severe they will hit. However, there is no way to be fully set for something that may take your life, home, or family away in a matter of minutes.

I try to be as prepared as possible in my life. I get my car serviced at regular intervals, always have extra food on hand in case of emergency, and get a yearly medical exam to maintain good health. Yet, it's the day to day stuff that catch me by surprise that can't always guarantee readiness. Like getting a flat tire or splashing spaghetti sauce on an outfit right before I'm ready to head out the door. There are just some things that happen beyond my control.

There is a book in the Bible called Jeremiah. Jeremiah is a prophet who was given the task to go into ministry and turn around a wicked group of people. He felt totally unprepared when given the task but went ahead because God promised to give him the words to say and provide protection and guidance. In the first chapter of the book, God encourages Jeremiah to, "Get yourself ready!..." (1:17) and to prepare for what lies ahead.

Jeremiah was faced a lot of rejection, abuse, and peril during the decades of his ministry which would make anyone faint of heart. Poor guy. However, because he knew God and God's Word, Jeremiah was more than ready to take on what would be cataclysmic and greatly discouraging. He had gathered information, knowledge, and wisdom to get him through all the difficulties he would face while travelling the long road God had for him.

As a Christian woman, I value and depend on the wisdom found in the Bible. I used to depend on my own thoughts and information when faced with a misfortune and things didn't usually turn out well. It seemed that every situation I tried to overcome became insurmountable. There was, often, a period of time when I tried to figure out where things went wrong.

Now that I have my own emergency preparedness kit, in the Bible, life has been easier. It doesn't mean that I have been without difficulties, loss, and heartbreak, but it has meant greater knowledge and information in order to be ready for the unexpected.

There will be mishaps in life and missteps along the way but the information and wisdom I've gained from spending time in the Bible has been invaluable. Applying what it says to my life has equipped me with courage, strength, and perseverance when the storms of life come, which, they will.

Encouragement for the week:

Do you know of someone who was a victim of the recent hurricanes, earthquakes, or flooding? Have you asked them what their emergency readiness plan was when they found out the disasters were coming and how much time they had to prepare?

There is no promise of easy sailing in our everyday lives. Sometimes disasters are predicted and others just happen without warning.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance of being ready by reading the Word of God so that we may be prepared for the things in life, both expected and unexpected. Keep digging deep into the Word for the wisdom, knowledge, and information that will enable you to be ready for anything that comes your way.

If you are not a Christian, you can look for Jesus and find Him. He is the source of great wisdom and knowledge that will help you to be better prepared for the difficult events in life that will come. He will enable you to come through them with peace and hope.








Monday, September 18, 2017

The Final Frontier

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**


Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before (Source: Wikipedia).

Many of you are familiar with the above monologue that plays at the beginning of each Star Trek movie/episode. They're the taglines that cause us to know, immediately, this famous cult classic that has been a favorite for decades.

Man has spent a lot of time and energy exploring the outer reaches of the universe. The most famous endeavor being the lunar landing by Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969. Since then, missions to Mars and other outlying planets have been investigated/attempted.

There are mysteries in the galaxy that we just can't explain, like a black hole. NASA has described it as follows: "A black hole is a place in space where gravity pulls so much that even light cannot get out. The gravity is so strong because matter has been squeeed into a tiny space. This can happen when a star is dying. Because no light can get out, people can't see black holes. They are invisible." (Source: www.nasa.gov)

Even though invisible to us, black holes do exist. They are a complex phenomenon that have been studied and sought after by scientests and star gazers alike. Even the sci-fi starship Enterprise searched for and, dangerously, encountered black holes whilst fulfilling Starfleet missions.

As a Christian, I wonder about a lot of things that exist that I haven't seen like black holes, the Milky Way, and heaven. Even though I have heard of these things and read about them, there still lies a curiosity in seeing each one with my own eyes.

I'm not sure if I will ever lay eyes on a black hole or the Milky Way, but believe I will see heaven. There's a book in the Bible called Revelation that gives a sneak peek of what to expect from heaven. In Revelation 21, it describes heaven on earth. A place that, "...shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal." (Revelation 21:11)

It will also be a spectacular dwelling where, "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,..." (Revelation 21:4). A destination that, I imagine, will fill the senses and leave me in awe. All that I have read about heaven doesn't compare to how it will be when I see it. Much like it may have been when Kirk and his crew of the starship Enterprise explored the expanse of the universe and boldly went where no man had gone before.

Encouragement for the week:

Even though there are things we can't see, we know they exist.

They are incredible and baffling and lead us wanting to know more.

If you are a Christian, you know that though you can't see God, you know He exists. He's present in everything that surrounds you and within your peaceful heart. God's Word continues to be a true and wonderful source of understanding the unknown and unseen. Be sure to spend time, each day, in the Bible.

If you are not a Christian, look for Jesus and you will find Him. Even though you can't see Him, He is as real as if you could and He's ready to welcome you into His family.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Understand, You Do Not

**Photo courtesy of www.google.ca**

Star Wars is, perhaps, the most popular and iconic sci-fi movie series of our time. If you are a die hard follower of the Star Wars franchise, you are familiar with the many characters that remain beloved to you today - Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, and Chewbacca, to name a few.

My favorite character was Yoda. A...creature of odd proportion, Yoda always knew what to say. He was considered to be exceptionally wise and, at times, spoke in a backward fashion, completely understood by those who knew him well. Skywalker would, often, seek Yoda's wisdom about a variety of predicaments that, young Luke, would often find himself in.

When I first started watching the Star Wars films, Yoda was a bit of a conundrum to me. At times, I didn't fully comprehend him but, over time, and having watched subsequent episodes, came to fully understand Yoda's 'ways'. Dare I say that I started speaking backwards while attempting to duplicate Yoda's voice. Don't tell anyone.

While it was over time I eventually figured Yoda out, there are things in this world that perplex me. Like the uncommon use of common sense, using anonymity to bully, or advocating violence while promoting a 'worthwhile cause'. These, along with so many other things, cause confusion and defy logic.

Growing up, one of the greatest things I didn't understand was God. To me, He was wrathful, distant, and poised to punish. An up-in-the-clouds deity not at all interested in the things that were causing me pain, depression, and anger.

It wasn't until much later in life that I became a Christian and entered into a personal relationship with God. Only then, did I come to fathom all the things that had, once, been pre-conceived as a young woman. Like thinking God was angry all the time and only interested in doling out discipline when, in fact, God was love and there was no denying it once I felt it for myself.

Then, there was the misconception that God had no interest in me or my life, until I spent time with Him. Now, I have come to understand that He's interested in even the smallest detail of every area of my everyday life. It's interesting how confused we can become when we don't take the time to really get to know the source of our misunderstanding.

Now, I can say that many things in life make sense because of the time taken each day to get to know God and His perspective on those things. The world and how it changes also makes more sense because of the time spent in God's Word, the Bible.

There is a book in the Bible called Jeremiah that speaks of a wonderful promise: "...In days to come you will understand it clearly." - Jeremiah 23:20 (NIV). A reassuring promise that, even though I may not understand something in this exact moment, I can look to God, asking for knowledge and understanding, and He will help me figure things out.

I am thankful for this kind of help and wisdom when it comes to navigating life. No matter what the situation, whether I get everything sorted out or not, God will help me and...understand, I will.

Encouragement for the week:

Understanding the difficult things in life can, sometimes, be elusive but with time, knowledge, and careful thought, those things can become less difficult.

With God, it's not so much that I need to comprehend everything in my life as much as it's knowing it's okay if I don't.

If you are a Christian, you know the importance of understanding the true character of God in order to comprehend the daily challenges we will encounter. Keep leaning into Him and He will help you to understand.

If you are not a Christian, and you struggle to understand some things in your life, look for Jesus and you will find Him. He will help you along the way to understand things from a more wonderful perspective than you have ever known.